My husband had something of an epiphany a few weeks ago after I brought home a book called ‘Green Living’ by Victoria Boutenka. I was simply perusing the shelves of the local library waiting for kids to pick out THEIR reading material, when I came upon this life altering gem.
Ms Boutenka is a long time vegan and raw food enthusiast – which I always found kind of creepy but… She goes on to describe the nutritional power of ‘green smoothies’ or fruit and vegetable concoctions whipped up in a blender. Consequently after reading this book, my husband and I have been drinking a quart of mixed green stuff every morning. We drink another quart at dinner or eat a big green salad. We are attempting to get more fruits, veggies, nutrients and fiber into our diet and this is actually working quite well. I’ve been growing all these wonderful veggies like kale, beets, carrots, lettuce, cukes and celery in the garden all summer and we’ve not really been able to eat all of them. After all how many beets, or how much kale, can you eat? Now my husband just grinds it up in the blender and we slosh it down in a couple of convenient gulps! We’ve found a few things that work and don’t work in the green smoothie business. 1. You don’t have to have an expensive Vita Mix blender to make these green smoothies but it sure would be nice! Our cheap Oster pooped out early in the green smoothie grinding game and needed to be replaced. $400 for the Vita Mix reccomemended by Victoria B. was out of our league so I settled on an Oster Fusion. Its supposed to be a blender and food processor in one appliance. I followed the food processor recipe for salsa one day and – surprise – had a salsa smoothie instead! No matter I already have a food processor. So it works pretty good as a blender but not so great as a food processor. Victoria B. describes the consistency of her smoothies in the powerful Vita Mix as ‘creamy’ which sounds really dreamy. I guess the best way to describe ours is ‘chunky style’ ! Better drink those suckers down fast as they get a little thick upon standing! This may sound gross but my husband hands me a pretty delicious mixture every morning. Who could argue with a healthy breakfast you can drink on the way to work ? It ceertainly makes breakfast healthier and clean up quick and easy. 2. Try to use a ratio of 60% fruit such as apples, , strawberries, grapes and bananas and 40% veggies such as kale, red lettuce, beet green or celery. Add a couple cups water or juice to sweeten things up a bit, a couple ice cubes or frozen fruit to cool it down. The recipe is pretty simple and you can use anything you have on hand. The greenish brown color of the smoothie can be rather unappetizing but hey it’s 6 am and nothing’s too colorful. Close your eyes and swallow it down. Try to ignore your husband’s brownish green smoothie mustache! Make sure said mustache clippings are gone before he leaves for work. You can also add yogurt if you want some probiotics. 3. The leaves of veggies, the part usually thrown out, are often the most nutritious part. 4. Rinse out the blender and glasses before you leave for work or you will return home to hardened green smoothie gunk lining your glassware.
The picture below shows Kale ‘Bright Lights’ which is one of our favorite ingredients. These grew from small plants in March that I have harvested leaves from ever since. It is very frost tolerant so I expect t be able to continue harvesting until December. I may even throw a small hoop house over it and see how long I can keep it going. In the meantime I’ve seeded another patch to try overwintering young plants.
Very easy to grow and pest free, kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It is a good source of fiber, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of vitamin A, C, K, B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. Can’t beat that to get your morning off to a good start!
The picture below is of a celery plant. I’d never grown celery before but am likin’ it a lot! Another easy to grow and pest free plant, its so much tastier than the pale, washed out stalks from the produce dept. The leaves and stems are a bright green with a wonderful ‘snap’ at harvest. I think commercially the stalks are covered to make them whiter and more tender but also with less nutrional value. This is another veggies that keeps growing as the stems are pulled off to eat, new ones grow.
Celery is a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of fiber, Vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium and manganese.
Celery is somewhat high in sodium at 88mg a stalk, but hey certainly not as much as a serving of Cheerios at 190 mg.
I also grew fennel this year but before I figured out what to do with it – an anise flavored smoothie was a bit more than even I could consider – it flowered and began attracting a lot of interesting insects. Fennel and all members of the Umbelliferae family, such as parsley and carrots, are preferred by swallowtail butterfly larvae. I am so happy to share my garden with this fellow/fella below .
Parsley is easy to grow, very nutritious and actually freezes beautifully. I strip the leaves from the stalks and fill a freezer bag full. The pieces are somewhat limp upon thawing but are fine for smoothies and soups.
The health benefits of parsley in herbal medicine include its use in the control of high blood pressure. Chinese and German herbalists recommend parsley tea for this purpose. It is also a good source of protein, vitamin E , thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins A, K, C and B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and zinc, and a very good source of fiber, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.
You can even eat your weeds! One person’s weed is another’s herb. Dandelion, clover and plantain are all nutritious weeds commonly found in urban settings and easily identified. One of the lesser known favorites is chickweed, Stellaria media, shown below. It’s a cool season annual weed with sprawling stems. Tiny star shaped flowers appear on the stem tips. Large patches of this weed appear in my beds every spring and fall. I can almost always find a green patch growing, even under the snow, so I can harvest it from about February to December if I make sure to keep some covered in leaves. It really doesn’t have much flavor which makes it a good additon to salads and smoothies. Chickweed is particularly high in vitamin C and mucilage, and also provides rutin, para amino benzoic acid (PABA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid derivative), niacin, riboflavin (B2), thiamin (B1), beta carotene (A), magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, selenium, and silicon. The name chickweed comes from the fact that chickens love to eat this plant. Herbalists make cooling salves and tinctures from chickweed to cure a variety of skin disorders from burns to eczema and diaper rash.
Today is a beautiful fall day and I will sign off to go play in my garden! Pick tomatoes, cucumbers and greens, water my seedlings, visit the fish, play with devadog! Enjoy these most beautiful days of the year which soon will end with winter’s breath! Store them in your heart for the long sleep ahead!